Home Depot breach: What you need to know

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When it comes to cybertheft, the Home Depot breach could end up being the biggest retail hack in history.

"Doesn’t surprise me. Anything that has to do with computers is unsafe," said one Valley resident.

Russian hackers are believed to have used a malware that was similar to the one used to hit Target last year. In that case, 70 million shoppers were affected. And then recently, P.F. Chang's saw 33 of its restaurants hit in a nationwide data breach.

"it's going to happen anywhere. Whether it's there or anywhere you shop, it's going to happen eventually," another Valley resident said.

Home Depot says there's no evidence pin numbers were compromised, and we're told that customers are not being held liable for fraudulent charges.

"Unfortunately, it is becoming the cost of doing business nowadays," Ed Goodman said.

Goodman is with a company called Identity Theft 911, which helps consumers protect themselves. He says changing the pin number on a compromised debit card is probably not enough to protect yourself.

"If they expose it, you’re going to be at risk, so I tell folks move it to a credit card," he said. "Part of the reason is if that credit card gets hacked, it ain't your money. It's not like they’re going to get in and take money out of your savings account, your checking account."

It's believed small business contractors account for as much as 40 percent of Home Depot sales, and it's those contractors who will ultimately be affected.

According to Goodman, "What most folks don't realize, those small business owners have corporate cards. Unfortunately, those corporate cards don't have the same protections as a consumer does."

Cybercrooks may wait months before selling off the stolen information, and when they do, it's for as little as $1 per card number.

As for consumers, it's extremely important to keep daily tabs on your card information, and Goodman says don't wait for your monthly bank statement.

"I push folks to online banking," he said. "I say, listen, a lot of people don't feel that secure doing online banking. I try to get them to understand, listen, it's nice to be able to look at your balance any time you need to."
 
So, despite all the hacking fears, are consumers changing the way they shop?

A Valley resident said, "There's nothing safer than carrying cash. It's simple, it's effective, no trouble at all."

For additional information, visit Home Depot's corporate website or the Identity Theft 911 website.